I want to start very near the beginning of the tradition of Western literature, and its first recorded example of a man telling a woman to "shut up"; telling her that her voice was not to be heard in public.
–Mary Beard - Women & Power - c.2017
Hearing the latest sex abuse scandal or the latest supposedly feminist man revealed as a jerk using his power and position for sexual gain can sometimes make consuming the news feel like a punch to the gut. But, as I tell myself again and again, the fact that these stories are coming out and being treated seriously is a good thing. The more criticism these acts get the more society will change. The more we highlight that they are wrong the less power the abusers have. The very fact that they aren’t regarded as just something that unfortunately happens is a good thing.
And we have come a long way. Beard starts off her preface to her manifesto with an acknowledgment of that fact. But we have a long way still to go. Because the roots of the patriarchy goes deep. It is embedded within the modern western world, so much so that we often don’t even recognise the misogyny around us.
In this book Mary Beard collects two previous lectures about women, power, and how society silences women and if it is forced to listen to them discounts what they say as shrill, strident, or only concerned with “women’s issues”, as though the rearing of children (etc) has nothing to with men.
It is a short book. You’ll read it in a sitting, but nevertheless it has a lot to say. Some you might be familiar with, especially if you’ve any background in feminism or women’s studies, but it is still a worthwhile collection of ideas.